military action by an occupying power against inhabitants of an
occupied country will only make matters worse."
Annan, April 28, 2004
THAT MAY NOT BE the undisputed, going-away, hands-down, dumbest thing
ever said, but you have to admit it's close.
In fact, there's so
much lush stupidity in it, the sum of the parts
is greater than the whole. So let's examine them that way.
As a bonus,
it actually shows us everything you always wanted to know about the
United Nations but were afraid to ask.
"Violent military action . . ."
As opposed to what?
Non-violent military action? What kind of military action would
distinguished secretary general prefer? Saddam et Fils still in
Since they're not (at no small loss of American and Coalition life),
what would he like our forces to do? Leave the country immediately? To
whom? The hundreds and thousands of Syrians and Yemenis and
Iranians who have spent the last year pouring over the borders and
getting ready to joyously kill everyone they see?
Or should the Army and
Marines stay to direct traffic, hand out
blankets, learn how to say "Have a nice day" in Arabic, and let
themselves get picked off two, five, and ten at a time for
(Like a poker game in Vegas, where the dealer keeps taking part of each
pot, until the players realize no one has any money left, and the house
has it all.)
The thing that's driven me nuts over
the last year is the thought
that our leaders weren't pressing the way they should, winning the way
they should, making each precious loss count the way it should.
being for or against this war may be an opinion, but here's a fact:
Either do this, or don't, but if you do it, don't do it halfway.
Napoleon said, "If you're going to take Vienna, take Vienna."
Ah, but you see, half measures are, in
fact, exactly what Mr. Annan
and the United Nations want, because that's the way they work.
Remember, this is the organization that literally and figuratively
pulled its trucks over to the side of the road in Rwanda and let the
jeeps full of machete-wielding murderers roll from town to town until
they had hacked up all the screaming people they could find.
Apparently, the U.N. follows some goofy Star Trek Prime Directive of
"Never get involved."
Hey, bonehead, the only reason there
ought to be a United Nations in
the first place is so that you do get involved, so that every so often
you put your baby blue helmets in between the bad guys and the
screaming people before they get chopped up. That's
you have such a big, tall, pretty building in Manhattan, you know, not
to go to cocktail parties on the Upper East Side and chat up the local,
SO WHAT'S HE
SAYING? Is all military action involving violence
wrong? How about the invasion of Normandy? That was
pretty violent, but
it made us the occupying power, which brings us to the next part of the
opening quote . . .
What is an "occupying
power"? Are there any good ones, or is
Mr. Annan saying they're all the same? The answer is, to contemporary
relativists, yes, all occupying powers are the same: Bad.
occupation of Poland was the same as Allied occupation of
is not better or worse, and the only reality is that someone has put
their army someplace other than the barracks back home.
Now, in addition, your
friendly, neighborhood relativist would
almost certainly say, "Oh, stop it. American occupation was good,
German occupation was bad. Everyone knows that." Here's
what you get to
say back: Why? Doesn't that call for an objective judgment of
evil? Who gets to decide when the rulers of a country are so bad
deserve invasion and occupation? The United Nations?
Because if that's
the case it will never happen anywhere, ever.
Lumping "occupying powers" together
without objective morality is
fatuous on the order of "All killing is bad." All killing
is not bad.
If a rapist jumps out of an alley and kills a woman, that's bad.
cop walks by and kills the rapist, that's good. And it's even
the cop shoots first. Does anyone not understand this?
If it sounds like I'm
talking to second graders here, forgive me, but that's how you have to
talk to the United Nations, and they still won't get it.
Which brings us to . . .
"Inhabitants of an occupied
country . . ." Okay, who would
that be today in Iraq? The potentially decent people who might
raise their families to change the entire way of thinking in the Middle
East? Because they're not the ones dismembering charred
dancing with severed heads.
councils that are going to take far longer than
June 30 to even start to stand on their new-born colts' legs?
they're not the ones subverting every millimeter of progress by sniping
The shop-owners and
food-sellers and farmers who are holding their
breaths for a chance at the miracle of a free society? Because
not the ones making the martyrs' stand in Falluja.
No, the only "occupied
inhabitants" who stand to lose something from
"violent military action" are the ones who should have been the
recipients of "violent military action" a year ago.
BUT MR. ANNAN feels
that all this ". . . can only make matters worse."
Really? Worse than what?
Worse than now?
Because now, today, and tomorrow, every radical
Islamist in the world hears the music of martyrdom, and is gathering
for the festivities, and he knows that the big barn dance is in
He knows that this is a great moment in history, either way it goes,
that this battle has been brewing for a long time, and that it will be
the biggest one for another very long time.
And the cherry on
top? It's not political or economic to him, it's
far, far bigger, because he believes that this is exactly what God
wants him to do. And he's as happy as he could be. These
Japanese Kamikaze pilots look wishy-washy.
No settlement will
placate, no shift will change the behavior, not
the slightest. It's always been like this, but now, in the
century, the boil has grown back, bigger than ever, and you either
carve the whole thing out, which hurts, or you sit back and watch it
grow again on your children, and grandchildren, and every generation
thereafter until someone finally decides to carve it out for
And guess who that'll
be? Hint: Not the Spanish.
HERE'S THE HARD THOUGHT
that's been creeping up on me for a
while. Mistakes are one thing, but if the folks pulling the
don't win all the way--all the way--if the decision-makers
falter and declare half-victory with a frozen smile, and tip-toe away,
and act shocked, shocked, I tell you, when the whole place falls apart
. . .
Then it will be
impossible to gather the will, or the votes, or the
moral fiber to do it again, the right way, for a very long, and by then
thousands, and then millions of innocent "occupied inhabitants" will
have been tortured and slain.
And the worst part, the
greatest sin: Every life lost so far will
have been wasted. Every Pat Tillman--and they're all Pat
every one--will have been given for nothing.
Of course, the Kurds,
and the Shiites, and the Sunnis, and everyone
else left to stand on the miles-long execution lines will still be able
to count on three things:
(1) The headline of
every American newspaper will be about the big, two-hour Friends
(2) Kofi Annan will
still say, "Violent military action will only
make things worse. And by the way, I don't care if you hold your
forever, we're not paying those parking tickets."
(3) The entire affair
will be Israel's fault.
Larry Miller is a
contributing humorist to The Daily Standard and a writer, actor, and
comedian living in Los Angeles.